Will the Flyers pay the price at the trade deadline?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Fighting for their playoff lives and with mere days to go until the NHL trade deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers have a big decision ahead of them.

The days are dwindling for NHL teams to beef up their rosters in hopes of postseason success, and the Philadelphia Flyers are at a crossroads.

On one hand, they’re in a playoff position (although barely) at the moment. They’ve gotten here despite so-so seasons from some of their top offensive players, as well as the season-long absence of third line center Nolan Patrick, whose return is still cloudy. Common sense says they’re good enough to make it to the playoffs even without any reinforcements.

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Then again, with the Flyers having shown an ability to hang with the best that the league has to offer for most of this season, it stands to reason that adding another roster piece or two would definitively push the Flyers into the playoffs and make them even more of a threat once they get there.

The issue, of course, is cost. And right now, the Flyers don’t have much salary cap room to work with at all.

But there are ways around it.

If Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher decides to go for it, he could always trade some salary away at the same time, though that’s easier said than done and would require removing a current player off the roster. Shayne Gostisbehere? Good luck, his stock has never been lower.

The most likely way that anything is going to get done is for the Flyers to convince a trade partner to eat some of their outgoing player’s salary. And you can do that by making them an offer they can’t refuse.

Whether it be picks or prospects, there’s not much that should be off the table for the Flyers at this deadline. Joel Farabee has now established himself as a part of the big club, and so he can no longer be considered a prospect. He’s not going anywhere. Nor should Morgan Frost or Cam York. Other than that, though, all bets could be off. Nay, they SHOULD be off if the right deal comes along.

There have been multiple trades in the NHL this week as teams are getting a jump on the deadline and squeezing a few extra games out of their new acquisitions. It’s a strategy I advocated over a week ago when discussing why the Flyers should pursue Chris Kreider.

And though Kreider (and some other interesting players) remain available, the price now seems like it will go sky high. Look no further than the returns that teams have been getting this week. High draft picks are flowing. Kreider and others will not come cheap.

But Flyers management owes it to this group of players, particularly the young members of the team who could benefit greatly from some playoff exposure. And, more than that, they owe it to their fans. The time for the Ron Hextall approach is over. Much like “The Process” with the 76ers, you’ve got to cash in the chips at some point.

According to recent rankings by The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, the Flyers have the #8 farm system in the league right now. That’s more than good enough to put an attractive package together for someone like Kreider, J-G Pageau of the Ottawa Senators or maybe even our old pal Jeff Carter. And I mean literally “old”. Dude is 35 now. At any rate, even if the Flyers deal a top prospect and a couple of picks, the cupboard is not in danger of being bare anytime soon. This isn’t the Phillies.

It won’t be easy, as many factors are in play, and the salary cap is always a challenge to navigate. Even though the Flyers might be good enough to make some kind of run as they’re currently constructed, the moment must be seized, despite the cost.

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The Flyers aren’t going to be seen as serious contenders for the Stanley Cup no matter what they might do before the deadline. But you don’t have to win it all to have a successful season. The Flyers are certainly tracking that way, and it’s now up to Chuck Fletcher and company to give them as many pieces to work with as possible.